5 Gift Ideas from Independent Businesses in and around Cardiff

If, like me, you’re on the hunt for some unique Christmas presents in and around Cardiff this year, then you only have to wander amongst the gorgeous Christmas Markets, the Victorian Arcades, Castle Emporium or Cardiff Market and you’ll be spoilt for choice, and that’s even before browsing online.

If you don’t know where to start and you’re looking for some giftspiration, I’ve got five suggestions for you from some wonderful independent businesses.

I could have gone on forever but I’m super busy.

You know, eating the chocolate decorations off my Christmas tree whilst watching It’s A Wonderful Life.

1.Cute and dainty sterling silver jewellery from Lushchic Jewellery

103 Bute St, Cardiff CF10 5AD

Shop here

Browse lush chic Instagram page here

If you or someone you know is a fan of cute and quirky sterling silver jewellery, then look no further!

Lushchic Jewellery specialises in eye catching trinkets which are girly, distinctive and affordable.

I personally love the sterling silver and pearl cat ring which I think would look great on it’s own or stacked with other rings to create your own unique combination.

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I was lucky enough to try out the new Winter Range with matching bracelet, earrings and necklace sets inspired by classic Victorian Christmas decorations including christmas trees, ornate baubles, snowflakes, poinsettias, ginger bread men and bells.

The heart snowflake necklace is my favourite- so detailed, pretty, dainty and sparkly- and nothing says Christmas more than swarorvski crystals.

And guess what, the kind guys at Lushchic have offered to take part in a giveaway- share my blog post on Facebook or Twitter for a chance to win this little beauty, usually worth £47! Bonus points for following Lushchic on Instagram.  Perfect gift for any age (if you’re not too tempted to keep them for yourself to wear to your Christmas doo that is!)

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Follow the link below to enter the giveaway.

I want a snowflake necklace!

Shop the full range here and give them a little follow on Insta to feast your eyes on these twinkly treats!

2. Sassy succulents from Secret Garden Florist

Store in Victorian indoor market selling fresh blooms for bouquets and functions, plus delivery.

St. Mary’s St, Cardiff CF10 1AU

Shop their website 

Follow them on instagram

What pinterest worthy office desk or dresser is complete without a succulent?!

Pop on in to the Secret Garden Florist located in Cardiff Market to pick up a succulent or two, or if you’re feeling super sassy…a glitter succulent! I KNOW?!

For the more traditional amongst us, they make the most beautiful  Christmas wreaths and lots of other blooming gorgeous gifts.

3. A Christmas Hamper from Wally’s Deli

38-46 Royal Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1AE

Browse the website here

Follow them on Instagram here

One of my  favourite go to places for gifts all year around but especially at Christmas time,  and of many others as exemplified by the crowds that flock to this store in the beautiful Royal Arcade for their Christmas goodies.

Just stepping foot inside the store is guaranteed to give you the Christmas feels- the hustle and bustle and delicious aroma will transport you straight to an Austrian Christmas Market. 

Create your own hamper choosing from a wide selection of gourmet continental foods including cold meats and salamis, cheeses, fresh bread, olives preserves, condiments, herbs and spices, chocolates and ales.

Heads up; they also have a new shop, Wally’s Liquor Cellar, which is situated in the Castle Arcade in Cardiff, as they had run out of room to display the ales, wines and spirits in the deli itself. 

Or if the choice is simply to much, pick up a ready make hamper or gift set and then treat yourself to a coffee in the Kaffeehaus upstairs. 

4. Homeware from Bodlon

12 Park Rd, Cardiff CF14 7BQ

Yr Hen Lyfrgell, Working Street, The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1BH

Shop here

Follow on instagram

With an established extensive online range under it’s belt, Bodlon opened a gift shop and cafe in Whitchurch a few years ago and now has a second home in the Old Library in the heart of the City Centre.

Bodlon are passionate about selling contemporary Welsh goods, from kitchenware to candles, cushions, pottery and other locally sourced treasures, you’ll be able to find a gift for everyone, from an under £10 secret santa challenge to beard soaps and waxes to fluffy sheep door stops.

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5. Vibrant prints from Yorath Designs

Shop here

Instastalk here

So this lovely lady is based out of Swansea, but I did say in and around Cardiff right?!

From hummingbirds, to ice creams, flamingos to pineapples, cacti to rubber ducks, and more recently added to the collection, a rosy red robin, these colourful motif prints would make the perfect present.

Each print is derived from an original acrylic lovingly hand painted by the talented Helen Yorath herself; the colour motif in the centre of a crisp white frame would  add a pop of colour to any wall, desktop or bookcase. 

Buy one and turn any old desk in to a fresh instagrammabe workspace #deskgoals.

Where is your favourite local independent place or website to buy those special gifts?

 

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5 Gift Ideas from Independent Businesses in and around Cardiff

5 of my favourite coffee stops in Cardiff City Centre

If, like me, the time distribution of your Christmas shopping trip  in Cardiff is essentially 5% shopping, 10% panicking about shopping, 75% coffee stops and 10% cake  (quick maths), you’ll know that finding the perfect pit stop or two for that caffeine hit is an essential, and possibly the most important and enjoyable part of your day.

To help you with this critical decision this Christmas season, fear not, I’ve prepared a quick guide to my favourite coffee stops in Cardiff City Centre- you’re welcome.

 

  1. The Little Man Coffee Company

Ivor House, Bridge St, Cardiff CF10 2EE

Leave the hustle and bustle of St David’s 2, onward past the sparkly lightening bolt, and there, across the zebra crossing next to the Traders Tavern is The Little Man Coffee Company.

The vibe is always relaxed, with the smell of coffee (usually sourced from local Welsh Roasters) and the sound of funk and soul music in the air.  The food menu offers a selection of classics with a twist, from toasties to colourful salads and, most importantly, they have a breakfast bar filled with fruit, cereals, breads for toasting, and Pop Tarts  for less that a fiver.

 

2. Coffee Barker 

Unit 13, Castle Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BU

Situated in the Castle Arcade, this quirky little coffee shop is the perfect spot to sink in to a comfy armchair and cwtch up with a cuppa.

If you’re unable to find a a seat inside amongst the eclectic decor, don’t worry, you’re sure to find a spot in the seating area outside, where you can settle down at a candle lit table,  pull on a blanket and watch the shoppers pass you by under the beautiful Christmas lights.

Oh, and the coffee is great too!

If you really want to treat yourself, grab an ice cream in sister cafe,  Barker Gelato.

And they’re not going to stop at coffee and ice cream….soon, you’ll be able to grab a swift one at the new Gin and Juice bar if you’re looking for something stronger to take the edge off!

3. Hard Lines

Castle Emporium, Womanby Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BS

Cardiff Central market, Unit 25, Cardiff CF10 1AU

Grab a speciality coffee to go from Hard Lines as you weave through the hustle and bustle of Cardiff Market or search for unique treasures at the vibrant Castle Emporium.

The shop in the Cardiff Market sports a retro pink coffee machine and neon lights, whilst the shop in Castle Emporium sells newly released vinyls alongside your caffeine hit.

Both shops pride themselves on their passion for providing great single origin coffee.

4. Uncommon Ground

10-12 Royal Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1AE

Nestled near the St Mary’s Street entrance of the busy Royal Arcade, Uncommon Ground is definitely a hipsters’ paradise (and I for one am not going to complain about that!)

The vibe is really laid back and  friendly and the shop itself has so much character with an industrial feel, from it’s exposed brick to the copper kettles and lights hanging in the window.

The in-house roasted coffee is insanely good- possibly my favourite flat white!

Uncommon ground is the perfect place to meet with friends, or to sit in the window, read a book and watch the world go by.

5. The Plan

28-29, Morgan Arcade, St Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1AF

The Plan is often said to serve the best range of coffees in the city centre, and not only that, it has arguably stolen the ideal spot, taking pride of place in the heart of Morgan Arcade, spanning two floors at the cross junction between the 2 branches of this Victorian building.

If you’re lucky enough to grab a much coveted seat, allow the expert baristas to recommend a cafetiere….and you might as well have some Eggs Benedict whilst you’re there too- shopping is hungry work!

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What’s your favourite coffee shop in Cardiff City Centre? 

I’d love to hear your recommendations.

 

 

 

 

5 of my favourite coffee stops in Cardiff City Centre

Can we please stop denying the extent of sexism and sexual harassment within our society ?

Over the last few weeks, in the wake of a tide of accusations of sexual harassment, what has shocked me the most is not the number of accusations but the number of people who appear to find the number of women coming forward shocking or unbelievable.

I find this staggering because I hear of, witness and personally experience different levels of this each day ranging from every day “casual” sexism to harassment.

The number of women I know who have experienced this or can share a personal story completely outweighs those who can’t. So why do we remain shocked and feel that these women are “jumping on the bandwagon?”

I’ve had a number of conversations on this topic. I wish to express my opinions, for what they are worth, on some common reactions I’ve heard over the last few weeks.

I’m just getting so tired of hearing all these accusations from women.”

Well, as a society, wouldn’t it be better if we were so tired of hearing about women being harassed each day, tired enough to take action and stamp out this behaviour.

I’d rather us be so tired of telling women to protect themselves and not to put themselves in vulnerable situations, enough to stop the endless victim shaming and teach our young men what is acceptable and what isn’t.

“What, are men not allowed to flirt with women now?

If you don’t know the difference between consensual flirtation and harassment I’d be very concerned.

However, if in doubt, perhaps don’t touch somebody or move beyond polite and appropriate conversation unless you’ve established some kind of report or relationship with them.

Everyone experiences intimacy differently and has different boundaries :a touch of the hand for someone may mean something completely different to another.

Context is everything.

I’ve had to leave numerous nights out with my friends following being consistently harassed; touched, groped, leered at, crude comments thrown my way, refusing to back away from my personal space, pulling my arm down the street when I’m trying to walk away, being followed and shouted at.

It’s intimidating, it’s completely devaluing every woman I know has experienced this exact same thing to varying degrees.

This has happened to your sister, or your mother, or your wife, or your daughter.

Would you tell them to just “take a joke?” Or that they were asking for it?

“Women ARE equal, and I don’t want to be treated the same as a man anyway”.

I don’t want to be treated the same as a man either, trust me.

But I want to be given the very same opportunities, should I wish to, on an equal footing, based on my knowledge, experience, skills and ability.

I want the same choices and the same chances.

And, really importantly, I want the same respect.

I’ve experienced, as have many:

  • Being assumed to be taking the minutes of a meeting or a secretary
  • Being told not to be so “bossy” or “fiesty”
  • Being asked “why I’m so dolled up?”
  • Being told to “smile love”
  • Being told to “try not to get emotional” when presenting an argument

Now, these things aren’t offensive and I wouldn’t mind this so much if my male counterparts in the room were subject to the same level of bullshit. But they aren’t. That’s not equality. And therein lies the issue.

Don’t think anything I’ve shared above is shocking? Think what I’m talking about is trivial?

That’s because you’ve become completely desensitised to this behaviour and accept it a the way things just are

. “I hate feminism.”

You hate the fact that women and men are fighting for women to be treated as individual human beings with the same opportunities and respect afforded to our male counterparts?Is this the world you want our daughters to grow up in? We should all be feminists.

Ladies, please stop contributing to our own oppression.Please be shocked that harassment is still happening and that sexism and sexual oppression still occurs this day in age- NOT because women finally feel empowered to talk about their experiences.

Can we please stop denying the extent of sexism and sexual harassment within our society ?

Some ways to look after yourself when you’re feeling anxious or low

The experience of anxiety and depression is so personal and so individual .

The physical and emotional manifestation of these conditions and the intensity of course differs between people but importantly, can also be a completely new beast for an individual each time a phase of anxiety or depression rears it’s ugly head.

Feelings of anxiety or depression can vary from feeling slightly worried and low to being completely debilitated and wishing that you could just disappear because you’re just exhausted and tired of fighting and don’t see a future ahead….and all kinds of shades and combinations in between.

I thought I’d share my own personal strategies that I’ve developed over these last 18 months to deal with periods of anxiety and depression.

Anxiety in particular is the little blighter that stalks me each day and so a lot of my personal reflections are more driven by tackling this particular condition.

However, it’s unfortunate and almost inevitable that for someone suffering with anxiety, the more anxious they feel, the more they get annoyed at themselves and the feelings of worthlessness kick in leading to self loathing, guilt and ultimately depression.

That’s why these two monsters are perfect and deadly partners in crime.

Therefore, I do have some experience of depression that I can draw on in this post.

I appreciate that some of this is very simplistic and will not work for everyone.

What works for you when you’re battling your demons?

  1. Know yourself and recognise your triggers

Intense periods of anxiety and depression used to sneak up and engulf me from the shadows, seemingly with no warning.

However, I’ve now learnt to pick up on the first subtle signs of changes in my behaviour and the way I feel….small nuances that cause ripples and alert me to early warning signs that trouble may be around the corner.

My friends are so insightful they often notice before I do and swoop in to help like the angels they are!

AnxieteaHowever, I’ve learnt that my things to look out for are:

  • Intense tiredness and lack of energy (from an over production of adrenaline)
  • Obsession/over thinking/ a specific narrowing of focus over elements of my life that at any other time I’d consider trivial or mundane
  • A lack of perspective on what’s important
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Feelings that people don’t like me/would be better off without me with no real incident, evidence or in fact any rationale to support this
  • When I’m quiet!!!

When I start feeling any of these, or when my friends spot these, I know that I need to implement some of the steps below.

2) Listen to your body

Constant to do lists or negative thoughts looping in your head, constant worrying and overthinking leads to high adrenaline which leaves you completely shattered.

I’ve often tried to push through this before when the irrational voice in my head tells me to keep going or the world will collapse!

Stop. Slow down.

If you need to sleep, sleep.
If you need to relax, relax,
If you need to talk, talk.

Throw the to do list out the window or if you can’t do that, challenge yourself as to what really is important, or ask a friend to help with gaining some perspective.

And don’t feel guilty.

3) Learn what makes you feel better

I’ve learnt that the only times I am present and in the moment and therefore not thinking or fretting about the past or present is when I’m enjoying music or enjoying a good book.

If I need a little pick me up, I like to listen to the Defected Glitterbox Podcast and dance around my room!

If I am feeling really anxious, I like to light candles, turn off my phone (constant social media checking does not help when you’re not feeling particularly great) and completely immerse myself in a book.

There have been times when even the J.K. Rowling’s of the world can’t transport me out of my anxious brain and I’ve found that reading books about dealing with mental health or spirituality very helpful.

Some of my favourites that I’ve read again and again are:

  • Reasons to Stay Alive- Matt Haig
  • Happy- Fearne Cotton
  • The Power of Now- Eckhart Tolle
  • How to be Mindful- Anna Barnes

These books not only help me feel like I’m taking some practical steps but also help me understand some of the physical and emotional responses that are happening in my brain and, importantly,  help me realise I’m not alone.6d148240c1f00bbf7ecde9d18b39e688.jpg

I am a social person and I know I’m feeling low when I really can’t face socialising- not only am I exhausted, the thought of either having to pretend to be normal or to have to try and explain how I feel to someone who may not understand how I feel (when I don’t really understand how I feel myself ) feels like actual hell.

Sometimes you may need time on own and that’s fine. But my experience in the last few months has taught me there is a fine line between giving yourself some recovery and isolating yourself- I’ve learnt feeling this way is alienating enough.

During periods of intense anxiety or depression, I usually give myself an afternoon of lying in bed and then make myself get up, get showered and visit someone I love, even if it’s just for an hour.

4) Kindfulness and gratitude

Bear with me on this one as I know this may be a little too ‘fluffy’ for some but kindfulness and gratitude are my 2 new favourite super tools for fighting the little demons when they get too much.

I was a massive fan of mindfulness and I still am, but what I’ve found is that when you’re feeling anxious and down you can already feel a little insular or even selfish and therefore guilty about this behaviour. Mindfulness and focussing so intensely on yourself and your feelings, I’ve personally found, has further exacerbated a feeling of selfishness and to a degree alienation.

So I’m favouring kindfulness and focussing my energy on being present but also on being kind to others.

staygrateful_thumbI’ve found that this projection of positive energy towards others in trying to be more compassionate, helpful and friendly has helped me to overcome some tough times.

I’ve also started writing down 3 small things I’m grateful for at the end of each day. Every day. On days when I’m feeling positive and sassy and like a girl boss that can conquer the world and on days when it seems like I’m stuck in a fog of self doubt and misery and can’t get out of bed.

What this has done, has taught me that there are beams of light even in the darkest of days. And that’s powerful.

5) Exercise

Ok I totally would have (and did!) roll my eyes at this suggestion 4 months ago. It seemed like such a generic thing to say.

But what d’ya know , the experts are right! Exercise totally helps with your state of mind.

I, a girl who skipped every sports day in her life and was definitely more GIN than GYM started regularly exercising in the morning during the summer and the endorphins are a total game changer in terms of boosting my day and my perspective.

I don’t know what I’d do without it now.

6) It’s time to talk

Talking is important.

I’m not saying you have to tell everyone (or choose to bare all in a blog!) and it’s important in some instances to choose your confidents wisely as not everyone will understand and having to explain, defend or justify can be emotionally taxing and damaging.

But there will be people who you can talk too, and for those angels, let them know you’re feeling unwell and let them know what you need.

If that’s to chat- they’ll be there.
If that’s to lock yourself away for a bit, that’s fine too, but I find having a little text at regular intervals asking if I’m ok means SO much.

And importantly, it’s so important to speak out if your depression and anxiety is at an intensity level where you’re unable to use the kind of tools above or self manage because that’s when professional help is needed.

Talking honestly to your family/someone you trust, GP or other health care professionals if you’re feeling in crisis is so important.

7) The most important advice:

Never, ever, suffer alone.

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10 of my favourite podcasts

I, like many people I’m sure, was introduced to the wonderful world of podcasts when I stumbled upon Serial.

I was lying in bed with tonsillitis at the time. I was in that delicious phase whereby I was about 3 days in, completely exhausted yet completely bored. My eyes were too tired to focus or read or to look at the TV screen for too long given the pounding headache that kindly kept my poor throat company.

I scrolled through Instagram and saw a friend post about how they were completely hooked on this podcast called Serial and I thought, well, this will be ideal as I can lie in bed with my bleary little eyes closed but gently listen to the storyline and keep my mind occupied.

Before that, I’d heard Greg James mention podcasts on Radio 1 and just assumed they were radio recordings that you could listen back to.

I didn’t realise when I downloaded that first podcast that I’d be introduced to such a rich, wonderful selection of topics; from true crime, to comedy, to panel quiz shows to political debates. Podcasts really are ear candy and good for the soul!

It probably goes without saying that Serial (Season One) is still one of my favourites; for those who are thinking of jumping on to the podcast train I’d highly recommended starting with this.

Released in 2014, this innovative piece of investigative journalism about a real life murder case quickly became a global phenomenon. Producer and presenter Sarah Koenig introduces the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old high school student from Baltimore county, Maryland, whose body was found six week after her disappearance in a shallow grave in a local park. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed was convicted of her murder based on what many consider thin evidence and is now serving a life sentence.

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Koenig skilfully takes us through the twists and turns of this case, and through expert story telling , supported by a chill inducing original soundtrack, creates tension and intrigue in a way that makes this 12 part podcast insanely gripping.

CHECK. IT. OUT.

Thanks to Serial, podcasts are a massive part of my life. I listen to them every morning as a now essential part of my morning routine, they help me through loooooong car journeys and keep me company through walks in the park or whilst I potter around the house with a coffee in hand.
I’m going to share with you 10 of my favourite podcasts, almost half of which were recommended to me by my wonderful spiritual and cultural advisor Kate Hammond (thanks hon!) You can check out her awesome blog, Cwtch Up Books, here.

Take a listen to the suggestions below and let me know what you think!

1. My Dad Wrote A Porno
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Season 1- 13 episodes
Season 2- 16 episodes
About 30 minutes per episode

Ok, seriously, this podcast is THE single most hilarious thing I’ve listened to. Ever.

I once made the mistake of trying to listen to an episode on the train. Apparently people look at you with a slightly concerned/pitiful look on their face if you’re crying eyes emoji lolling every 3 seconds between Lisvane and Cardiff Central. Whatever.

In a nutshell, Jamie Morton, accompanied by friends James Cooper and Alice Levine, reads out chapters of a porno written by his 60 year old Dad who goes by the pen name ‘Rocky Flintstone.’

The book is called Belinda Blinked, and I cannot put in to words how clunky, cringe worthy, badly written naff and HILARIOUS this little gem is. Good job that Jamie and co can though, as they pull apart each chapter with commentary filled with wit, quips and friendly banter galore. This one is a MUST!

Word of warning; Don’t listen in front of your kids/parents!

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2. Optimal Living Daily

m93DSyNQ.jpgDaily
Average 7 minutes per episode

Justin Malik reads out a different blog post each day on productivity, minimalism and personal development.

I always start my day with one of these beauties as they really give food for thought and have given me some practical tips I’m definitely going to use such as starting the day with big important tasks that add value to avoid procrastination, how to prioritise your To Do list against the rest of your life, the practice of mindfulness and gratitude and the importance of kindness.

These little  bite size reminders really help set the tone for my day.

3. They Walk Among Us

Bi-weeklyX0xRnz8x
At the time of writing, up to season 1- episode 15
Between 18-35 minutes per episode

I always make sure that I listen to this podcast when it’s light outside.

The reason being is that each episode focuses on sinister and surreal accounts of UK True Crime.

All the crimes covered have been headliners, such as the Shannon Matthews case or Mick Philpott, found guilty of causing the death of his 6 children by arson. Each case is explored with calm objectivity and is underpinned by immaculately thorough reason.

Listener caution is advised for this one, as the details of the cases are extremely disturbing.

4. Words Unspoken: The Hills Podcast

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Weekly (but currently at a hiatus!) 

At the time of writing, up to episode 16
Between 30-40 minutes per episode

This podcast is created and narrated by two southern sisters, Jem and Susan, who are re watching The Hills and chatting to us about each episode.

This podcast makes my soul happy in so many ways.

Firstly, I used to be absolutely OBSESSED with The Hills in my youth and so listening to and remembering the storylines filled with friendship, romance and drama gives me a lovely warm pang of nostalgia.

Secondly, it actually feels like Jem and Susan are your new American best friends and that you’re chatting with them over a coffee (by coffee I mean  a wine, obvs) and being a true girls girl, I am all for that.

They are sassy, witty and their commentary is so spot on. Hilarious hons!

Lastly, the theme song is just the one.

5. Accused

636108317047441592-Accused-Teaser-with-Reporters-Email9 episodes
Between 35- 60 minutes per episode

The tagline of this podcast is ‘Was the right guy charged, or did a killer walk free?’

So, if you loved Serial I’m sure you will love this!

It tells the story of the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Andes, who was found stabbed to death in her Ohio apartment in 1978. Much like Serial, the podcast gives a platform to journalists from the Cincinnati Enquirer who wish to reignite the cold case.

6. Modern Love

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Weekly 

Around 20-30 minutes per episode

Ahhhhh, this one really appeals to the romantic in me.

Notable American personalities narrate reader submitted essays from the New York Times based on the trials and tribulations of modern love. These stories can be extremely deep and touching through to light and thought provoking and explore the topics of romantic love, friendships, family and breakups. One of my recent favourites was about a guy who refuses to use small talk and now immediately enters in to meaningful conversations with everyone he meets.

I may try this out on my next victim, I mean, date 🙂

7. Under the skin with Russell Brand

46821c89c96cee1c5b3a642b8da584eb04754b3746f7dd4d8b951aad4b652d42e90785576b021d60cfc11c9e1b6a318b99338fe21eb47d6bc52b80b41290044c.jpegWeekly
Just over an hour per episode

This is a new podcast from Brand, and even though only 4 have been released so far it’s already becoming one of my favourites.

Brand sets the scene by acknowledging that in the last election campaign, he rallied for revolution without fully understanding the issues or without being “fully armed for the battle.”

He’s therefore gone back to uni to study for a 3 year MA in religion in politics and this podcast sees him discussing significant philosophical questions, such as ‘Can we really stop terror?’ and ‘Feminism- can it change the world?’ with academics and experts in the field.

Brand holds his own throughout these discussions, coming across as strong minded yet inquisitive, philosophical, compassionate and empathetic. He also manages to be extremely funny, as always, without compromising the sensitivity of the topics he is discussing.

I love it.

8. Love and Radio

love-radio_FEATURED

Monthly
Length can vary from 30 minutes to over an hour

Love and Radio focuses on stylised interviews with intriguing characters.

Two of my favourite episodes are called The Silver Dollar and How to Argue, which both feature Daryl Davis, a black musician with a keen interest in the subject of extreme racism, and who befriended members of the Ku Klux Klan.

His story and his perspective on life are both truly fascinating.

9. Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4

 p03fy1mhEvery Friday

Each episode is just under 30 minutes 

The format rotates between:

  • The Now Show- Comedy sketches from Huw Dennis, Steve Punt and co
  • The News Quiz- Topical panel quiz show taking it’s topics from the week in the news
  • Dead Ringers– Impression show taking the mick out of celebrities and politicians
  • The Museum of Curiosity– Another panel show with a twist

No matter the format, this is satirical HEAVEN and is the best way to get the weeks news summarised and digested!

10. S-Town

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And, here it finally is! S-Town.

The long awaited podcast from the makers of Serial.

I’m a few episodes in an I’m engrossed already.

There are 7 episodes posted and I cannot wait to cosy down with a cup of coffee and binge listen to this intriguing story on Sunday evening.

No, YOU’RE getting old.

So, those are some of my favourites! Let me know if you like them? And please throw any recommendations my way.

Happy Listening!

10 of my favourite podcasts

About Cardiff: Guy Christian Salon

Choosing a hairdresser that you trust is a really difficult task. I mean, they practically have your life in their hands!

Ok, that may be a*bit* dramatic but if you’ve ever had one of those almost-crying-walking-out-of-the-hairdressers-wearing-a-baseball-hat-for-3-weeks situations (who hasn’t? Also… who uses the phrase ‘baseball hat’….I’m really sorry everyone!) you’ll know what I mean.

I was lucky to find a wonderful hairdresser when I moved to Swansea as a student when I was struggling to drive back and fore to my local hairdresser- I loved her and trusted her so much that I continued to get my hair cut and coloured at her salon every 6 weeks looooong after I had moved back to Ebbw Vale and later, to Cardiff.

After a few years however, I decided to bite the bullet and try to find somewhere that I loved just as much but that was more local.

My friend recommended Guy Christian Salon- and so I tried it out!

The Cardiff Bay salon itself I would describe as ‘gothic glamour’. It feels luxurious but edgy at the same time.Think stripped back, bare, warehouse style walls and ceilings and exposed brickwork paired with elegant chandeliers and elaborate ceiling to floor mirrors.

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Photo courtesy of guychristian.com

Every time I’ve been to the salon, I’ve always received a warm welcome from one of the devastatingly beautiful/quirky/cool but down to earth guys and gals who work there (I want to know where they all shop?!) alongside a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

But most importantly, I’ve always LOVED my hair. Every time.

Sarah Worthing is usually my hair(stylist)y godmother of choice. She is now stylist to quite of a few of my friends (luckily, we don’t all share the same haircut!)

I wanted to tell you about my experience having ombre at the salon.

Just before Christmas, my friend suggested we volunteer ourselves as models for a Colour Contouring workshop at the salon led by a Wella colour technician.

Now, I’ve always wanted ombre hair. However, I had given it a go a few years ago, when I went through my swooning over Rachel Bilson’s dip dye stage, with not so great results!

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Unfortunately, my hair did not turn out like this hons’!

So despite having been a loyal customer of Guy Christian Salon for over a year, I still remained a little wary of the whole ombre experience. None the less, I decided to give it a go.

I turned up to the salon for my colour contour the day after I’d had my 18 inch hair extensions removed; needless to say, after 6 months of wearing extensions and no trimming, my already fine hair was looking more than a little tired and scraggly!

Stylist Stacey took me under her wing, and took the time to really work out what tone and shade of ombre would best suit according to my skin tone and features.

Crucially, during the consultation, Stacey was careful to take in to account the condition of my hair and was mindful to ensure that we got the result that I wanted and expected without weakening my already fragile hair. She suggested we start very subtle this time around and build up over time.

I loved the result!

Just last week I returned for a touch up with Sarah who, after another helpful and personalised consultation, suggested I could go a bit lighter , bring in more contrast and weave through more colour, building up to a blonder look in the summer should I want to.

2 hours later I sashayed out of the salon after a lush 2 hours of chatting, relaxing and tea drinking, with bouncy, healthy, shiny ombre hair. I then preceded to take 45 selfies of said hair because, obviously.

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So basically, what I’m saying is that I would highly recommend Guy Christian Salon in Cardiff Bay; the salon itself is stylish and luxurious without being pretentious and intimidating, the service and staff are a delight and most importantly, will support you in achieving the style that you want, taking in to account your end goal but balancing this with what is achievable and right for you.

Try them out:

http://www.guychristian.com

Oh and make sure you post your #gcsalonselfie!!

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Rachel Bilson… eat your heart out!

About Cardiff: Guy Christian Salon

My totally necessary 3 year Emo phase

Remember that completely cringe worthy but totally necessary 3 year Emo phase that we all experienced?

No?

Well, let me tell you all about mine and see if that jogs your memory.

 

Phase 1-B*Witched who?

I was 14 years old.

I’d spent the last 5 years of my life fantasising about being in the Spice Girls, and then B*Witched and later All Saints, practising dance routines and my amazing vocal ad libs every single day in front of the mirror with a hairbrush so that I would be totally prepared when I got the call that they needed another band member.

Ok, that paragraph was a total cliche but I’m not even sorry because that was my truth guys!

When I wasn’t planning my astronomical rise to fame, I was fantasising about one day marrying Adam Rickitt (HA! Remember THAT glass box?!)  or Aaron Carter and later Abs from Five or Gary Lucy off of Footballers Wives. I pretty much had our lives planned out (4 kids, mansion in Wilmslow or wherever all the footballers live and matching dolphin tattoos).

And then Avril Lavigne came along and changed my life forever.



The moment I saw that video for Complicated on MTV I knew that my desire to be Rachel Stevens had died forever.

The long straight hair. The eye liner. The guitar. The baggy shorts. The tie. 
The sk8r boyz.

 

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So bad ass! So alternative! So quirky!

I quickly discarded my Britney poster and untangled my twists and knots with reckless abandonment.

The pedal pushers and Tammy Girl tank tops were tossed aside in favour of EXTREMELY baggy low rise jeans from criminal damage that allowed my then size 6 bony hips to poke out just above the band of my TopShop ‘female boxers’, a spikey dog collar choker (from Claire’s Accessorises…. #edgy) and a black crop top with the word SINNER emblazoned across the front.
“Are you a goth?!” my mother exclaimed one day.

“No Mam.” I replied “I’m an Emo.”

 

Phase 2- Busted and Beyond….

There followed a period whereby I was absolutely obsessed with ma gurl Avril and those absolute dream boats Busted, who were so cool because THEY PLAYED THEIR OWN INSTRUMENTS AND EVERYTHING.

And then I discovered ‘gigging’.

I’d drive my Ford KA twice, sometimes three times a week to various band nights that catered to the under 18s (The Dolls House and The Tavern, I’m looking at you) to mostly bop along to lads from the year above me in school playing covers of Kings of Leon 4 Kicks and The Hives Hate to Say I Told you So.

I realised that I was just scratching the surface with Avril….who knew?! My eyes were opened to Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Green Day, New Found Glory, Sum41 and Blink 182.

I finally realised why Busted always sang in an American accent even though they were from Southend-On-Sea.

 

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Phase 3- Bagging myself a band member

What do you do when you fall in love with an older guy who is a member of an actual REAL LIFE band who WRITE THEIR OWN MUSIC?!

You burn the songs from their MySpace directly on to a blank CD so you can learn all the words, you dye your hair jet black with a white blonde slice through it, get yourself an asymmetric fringe and short choppy layers, apply more eyeliner and hang out at every gig until they notice you of course.

Sure, from behind you often get mistaken for a lesbian couple who share the same hairdresser. And, ok, deep down you realise that you’re not the only one with the honour of driving him to and from his gigs each week and getting the kiss goodnight.  

But ultimately,  do you care?! You have Asymmetric Fringe and Boyfriend in a Band therefore making you Queen Of The Emos.

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Phase 4- Scene

I got to about 17/18 years old when I realised that, sure, I liked Sum41 and New Found Glory but actually I loved Ja Rule and Kanye West and Cascada and that *maybe* I was actually way too outgoing and energetic and preppy and MAINSTREAM to even be considered Emo. 

I mean, I didn’t even really understand what being Emo was– I don’t think I was ever fully committed to the idea.
But I still fancied the indie boys, and the local gig vibes and I was still totally rocking the fringe and so I instead pursued being ‘scene’.

This basically meant still immersing yourself in the culture and the style and the band nights but also taking moody black and white overly posed pictures for your MySpace with really deep and meaningful Fall Out Boy lyrics as your caption because you are so misunderstood and tortured and complex.

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Note: I REALLY wish I had not deleted my MySpace.



What did I learn from my Emo phase?

I don’t really know when I stopped trying to be Emo/Scene. I don’t think it came to an abrupt end but more fizzled out when I went to university and met new people and I just stopped trying so hard to be a certain type of person.

I started this blog by calling my emo phase ‘cringeworthy but totally nessecary’.

It was cringeworthy not because being Emo is cringeworthy in itself in any way. Anyone who can and does express themselves in a way that is most meaningful and authentic to them is admirable and enviable. 

The cringeworthy part was that I was trying SO HARD to be somebody and to fit something that I clearly wasn’t.

And that’s why the phase was totally necessary! It taught me so many important life lessons.

It taught me to be yourself, always. 

It taught me that you cannot sustain a facade for too long.

It taught me that you should never, ever try to put yourself in a neat box.
It taught me not to chase after boys who play the guitar.

And mostly, it taught me that fringes are just not for me.

P.S. I’m still practising should Little Mix need a 5th band member.

My totally necessary 3 year Emo phase